Universal Avionics is partnering with Heli-One (Norway) to equip four Airbus Helicopters H215s operated by the Bundespolizei-German Federal Police (BPOL) with SkyVis helmet-mounted displays.
Universal and Heli-One are jointly working to obtain European Union Aviation Safety Agency supplemental type certification of the system aboard the H215 (AS332L1e) helicopters, with approval expected early next year.
The system comprises monocle-type helmet-mounted displays for standalone use for day operations (SkyVis HMD), or it can be combined with night-vision goggles for night operation (SkyVis NVG HMD). SkyVis provides “out the window flight capabilities” that “brings the flight display with you” when a pilot turns their head, Universal said. It shows basic flight instruments, engine parameters, and key navigation information, providing full VFR flightpath control. As a result, it improves situational awareness and reduces pilot workload in operations such as hover.
Heli-One selected SkyVis as part of an overall upgrade package it is installing on the BPOL H215s. Heli-One managing director Tord Wilstrup Torgersen said the system will help BPOL “achieve their mission success."
“The decision of Heli-One and BPOL to install SkyVis on the new H215 helicopters attests to the quality and maturity of the technology,” added Universal CEO Dror Yahav. “SkyVis is a valuable contribution in achieving higher mission-completion rates and enhanced safety levels in adverse flying environments.”
Meanwhile, in the forward-fit arena, efforts are progressing on certification of the Universal Avionics ClearVision EFVS suite—which combines the enhanced vision system camera, synthetic vision system, and SkyVis HMD—on AW169s under a partnership with Leonardo. Universal and Leonardo will jointly market the system, which will be installed on the helicopters at Leonardo’s factory.
Efforts on that system have been underway since 2016, and Avishay Limonad, program director for Universal Avionics parent Elbit Systems, said EASA certification is expected soon. Once certified, plans call to expand to other models, as well as for the retrofit market. The displays build on the years of experience that Elbit brings with helmet technologies. Limonad said pilots with military backgrounds are familiar with the technologies and eager to see the transfer into the commercial market.
“I am very excited to have this carry over into the commercial space,” added Universal Avionics rotorcraft business development manager Tal Golan. Citing lessons learned from the military side, he said, “We've redesigned it to be a lot more intuitive and user-friendly.”
Providing line-of-sight tracking, ClearVision uses a multispectral camera to support operation in all-weather conditions. The system's synthetic vision was specifically designed for low-altitude flight requirements typical of helicopter missions.
This ability to perform in reduced visibility is particularly important in European airspace, where such conditions are common, Yahav said. “As such, we made the strategic decision to expand our European office recently to more fully support our customers, authorized dealers, and OEM partners in their efforts to integrate ClearVision into the market.”
While the latest efforts are focused on EASA certifications, Universal also has conducted work with the FAA. In fact, ClearVision components have been installed on a Sikorsky S-76 testbed as the agency looks to update its EFVS regulations, particularly for helicopters.